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FTX- 091 - DIRTY OLD TOWN - BENBOW AT THE SKIFFLE CELLAR

These recordings are probably the earliest made in "The Skiffle Cellar" operated by Russell Quaye and Hilda Sims in 1958. Steve was performing there with his "FOLK FOUR" Crew featuring vocalist, Stella, Jimmie Macgregor on mandolin and Vic Pitt, bass. The concept of "Skiffle" originated when two friends of Peter Kennedy: John Hasted, nuclear physicist at London University and Redd Sullivan a busking merchant seaman, both folk and socialist enthusiasts, visited Peter's "Reel Club" and played a type of music which had recently originated on board ship with three instruments: a Spanish guitar, a washboard and tea-chest bass. The term "skiffle" was aleady in use in a number of folksongs such as "Knickerbocker Line" and "Maggie May"

1. AS I ROVED OUT (Vic Pitt on bass) - 2'36"

2. DERBY RAM (with "The Benbow Crew" in the Skiffle Cellar) 3'19"

3. DIRTY OLD TOWN (composed by McColl) - 2'46"

4. TURPIN HERO - 2'58"

5. MANCHESTER RAMBLER (McColl) - 3'17"

6. WHIP JAMBOREE - 2'56"

7. JACK TAR ON SHORE (with Jimmie Macgregor on mandolin) - 2'31"

8. CRUISIN ROUND YARMOUTH - 3'23"

9. PULL THE STRING - 3'32"

10. TIME TO BE MADE A WIFE - 2'05"

11. DARK-EYED GYPSY-O - 2'21"

12. TRUELOVER'S FAREWELL - 1'45"

13. BOLL WEEVIL (Steve's intro to The Skiffle Cellar) - 2'13"

14. DINKS SONG (Stella) - 2'46"

15. BLUE TAIL FLY - 2'19"

16. TWO BROTHERS - 2'15"

17. COME ALL YOU FAIR & TENDER LADIES (Solo by Stella) - 2'33"

18. LOLLY TOO DUM (Stella) - 3'40"

19. KISSES SWEETER THAN WINE - 3'11"

20. SWING LOW SWEET CHARIOT - 2'07"

21. WAYFARIN STRANGER - 3'09"

22. MICHAEL ROW THE BOAT ASHORE - 3'00"

23. RAIN RAIN RAIN (Last song before soloists)talk before - 2'52"

24. HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN - 3'37"

25. SLACK YOUR ROPE, HANGMAN (The Gallus Pole: Leadbelly) - 2'39"

STEVE BENBOW was born in Topsham Road, Tooting 29/11/31; he moved to Hooley in Surrey in 1936 and after attending various local schools he ended up at Reigate Grammar School leaving there in 1947. His first job was farming at Shute, near Axminster, Devon, where he learned hand-milking and looking after cows and horses for 1 a weeek plus keep. While continuing with various farm and stable jobs he played drums in his brother David's band, doing dances and gigs in pubs and village halls.In January 1950 he signed up with the Royal Army Veterinary Corps spending his entire Army service in Egypt working with war dogs, horses and mules. Because his father had been in the Camel Corps living in Alexandria and had taught his children Arabic, Steve was soon employed as an interpreter in Arabic, French and Mauritian Creole for the Special Investigation Branch. Learning to play guitar, he was soon entertaining in officer's messes, cafes and bars in Ishmailya and Fayid. Back in England in 1955 he joined Dave Kier's Jazz Band and was introduced to the playwright, Ewan McColl, who was looking for a guitarist to accompany on two albums with folksinger, Bert Lloyd and in 1957 went to Russia with him for an International Youth Rally and concert tour. On his return, with his own Group, Steve became a regular at The London Skiffle Cellar in Soho organised by Russell Quaye and Hylda Sims. His first solo broadcast was on "Guitar Club" on BBC Radio in November 1957 followed by regular appearances on "Saturday Skiffle Club" and, through Peter Kennedy, in Charlie Chilton's weekly production "In Town Tonight". This, in turn, led to regular broadcasts with "The Steve Benbow Folk Four".

Recorded and edited by Peter Kennedy and first published on Folktrax Cassettes 2000.

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